Ex-Jeff Co. Sheriff's Office employee alleges Stephens sought to assemble administrative staff of non-whites

By John Suayan | Feb 12, 2018

BEAUMONT – An East Texas woman alleges racial discrimination forced her to resign from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

In a federal lawsuit filed against Jefferson County on Feb. 9, Mary Catherine Presley claims her former supervisor Tim Smith; Sheriff Zena Stephens; and Edith Casmore Francis, a county employee, sought to assemble an administrative staff for Stephens that was non-white.

Recent court documents show that Presley worked for the defendant for more than 30 years. She held the position of administration operations manager at the time of her departure.

Elected in late 2016, Stephens became one of only two black female sheriffs in the U.S.

According to the plaintiff, Francis was “actively trying to advance” a black woman to replace her.

Smith reportedly reminded Presley that “she made $10,000 more than” the woman, to which the suit asserts was a “set-up for Casmore Francis’ and Stephens’ plan.”

She further explains she was instructed to train her supposed replacement, adding she “reluctantly” tendered her resignation in an effort to save her retirement.

Consequently, Presley seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Larry Watts of the law firm Watts & Company Lawyers, Ltd. in Missouri City is representing the complainant.

Beaumont Division of the Eastern District of Texas Case No. 1:18-CV-0068

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